Cagliari vs. Napoli: Preview and TV schedule

Giuseppe Bellini

Napoli should be able to bag a win and an early Christmas present for their fans on Saturday, as they travel to face mid-table Cagliari.

Napoli have worryingly wobbled over the last few weeks, only picking up a couple of wins in their last five league matches and heartbreakingly crashing out of the Champions League. However, a win at Cagliari this weekend would at least give Rafa Benítez's side some Christmas cheer, particularly on the back of an emphatic 4-2 victory at Inter Milan last weekend.

They're eight points adrift of league leaders Juventus heading into the round, though should provisionally cut the deficit by three points by beating their Sardinian hosts on Saturday night. Cagliari have done pretty well at home this season and haven't lost in their last five Serie A matches, though Napoli should simply have too much to not come away with all three points.

That's not to say that the partenopei should expect an easy game. Cagliari are a disciplined side who pack the midfield and like to retain possession, and will no doubt look to frustrate Napoli first and foremost. What's more, with the tricky Marco Sau expected to start in attack, the Neapolitan defence shouldn't find life too easy. However, the Sardinians could find themselves blown open on the counter-attack; their high defensive line feasted upon by the on-form José Callejón and Lorenzo Insigne.

Making things even more difficult for the hosts is the continued absence of their star striker Victor Ibarbo, as well as the suspension to Luca Rossettini. For Napoli, captain and chief creator Marek Hamšik is still among those sidelined, though their recent experiments with Dries Mertens in the number 10 position have looked promising. He should once again be deployed off Gonzalo Higuaín in a fearsome attack.

Cagliari injuries and suspensions

Out: Victor Ibarbo (injured); Luca Rossettini (suspended). In doubt: None.

Napoli injuries and suspensions

Out: Juan Zuñiga, Marek Hamšik, Giandomenico Mesto, Paolo Cannavaro (injured). In doubt: None.

Projected lineups

Cagliari: Vlada Avramov; Nicola Murru, Davide Astori, Dario Del Fabro, Francesco Pisano; Radja Nainggolan, Daniele Conti, Albin Ekdal; Andrea Cossu; Marco Sau, Nenê.

Napoli: Pepe Reina; Pablo Armero, Raúl Albiol, Federico Fernández, Christian Maggio; Blerim Džemaili, Valon Behrami; Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, José Callejón; Gonzalo Higuaín.

Match Date/Time: Saturday, 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Sant'Elia, Cagliari, Italy

TV: beIN Sport (U.S. - English), RAI Internazionale (U.S. and Canada - Italian), BT Sport 2 (U.K.)

Online: beIN Sport Play (U.S. and Canada), BT Sport 2 (U.K.)

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